As personalized medicine becomes more popular, clinical laboratories, and anatomic pathologists are uniquely positioned to use next-generation sequencing to advance their scope among regulators, insurers, providers and patients, while adding clinical value and generating a new revenue source

By now, most clinical pathologists and medical laboratory scientists recognize that genetics, genetic testing, and gene sequencing will be a major transformative force in this country’s healthcare system. Genetics is the future of modern medicine.

At the same time, most independent labs and health network labs still lack the key resources needed for them to provide accurate and state-of-the-art genetic testing and gene sequencing services in support of clinical care.

The good news is that it is not yet prime time for genetic testing—meaning few genetic tests have become part of routine care, particularly in primary care settings. Today’s limited use of genetic tests creates the opportunity for any medical laboratory and anatomic pathology group to use this time to develop its genetic testing strategy. It also has time to incrementally put in place the resources it will need to offer genetic testing and gene sequencing services to its client physicians.

“Every clinical lab that wants to be a provider of genetic tests needs three basic resources,” stated Robert L. Michel, Editor-in-Chief of The Dark Report and Dark Daily. “First, the lab must have information technology in place that can handle genetic and molecular data. The second thing needed are pathologists, PhDs, and clinical laboratory scientists trained in genetic and molecular diagnostics. Of course, the third resource is to have the lab analyzers, instruments, and automation needed to extract, amplify, and sequence specimens.”

Experts agree that adoption of genetic testing will happen at a rapid pace. “Next-generation sequencing (NGS) is an incredibly powerful, positive force in medical care. We were in the Dark Ages before this. It is the tsunami on our shores, and it’s going to take over all of medicine. It’s not a trend. It’s the future of medicine. There’s no question about it,” predicts Maurie Markman, MD, an oncologist and President of Medicine and Science at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, in an article he penned for Health Connect South.

 

“As knowledge of genomic medicine has increased, its cost has plummeted,” notes Maurie Markman, MD (above), President of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, in his Health Connect South article. “Sequencing a human genome [in 2015] costs less than $10,000, compared to more than $100 million in 2001. Not only are the tests more available to patients, but more oncologists are trying their hand at tumor testing and building on the base of knowledge.” (Photo copyright: Cancer Treatment Centers of America.)

“If you agree with Markman’s comments, then your medical lab should have a plan for how it will incorporate NGS technologies and genetic testing into its menu of lab tests,” observed Michel. “Because NGS is the engine powering much of this new genetic information and igniting the potential of personalized medicine, probably the single most important business step clinical labs and pathology groups can take at this point is to begin to create the informatics capabilities needed to support genetic testing.

“This can be done by either adding the needed functions to the existing laboratory information system (LIS) or supplementing that LIS with appropriate middleware solutions,” he continued. “This is true even if a lab plans to outsource both the gene sequencing and the annotation and interpretation of the resulting gene sequences. It will need in-house informatics capabilities to store and report that genetic information.”

NGS, Gene Sequencing, Precision Medicine, and Clinical Laboratories

Purchasing, implementing, and operating NGS technologies can be a costly venture, so it is critical that labs know and understand the needs of their referring clients.

“Knowing who your lab’s customers are and what you do for them today should guide you as a laboratory,” notes Brian Keefe, Vice President of Sales and Customer Innovation at Psyche Systems, a laboratory solutions developer for the medical industry based in Boston. “For example, your pathology group knows it should be offering NGS testing, and the justification for needing to go in this direction is because 90% of your clients are oncologists.”

Using NGS technology and marketing it to clients will be a valuable benefit for clinical laboratories. It will enable labs to participate in personalized medicine and allow them to become the “go to” facility for specific genetic tests.

“If you’re a laboratory that has figured out how to map the genome for nightmare bacteria, it doesn’t matter whether you’re three miles or 3,000 miles away, physicians will send their samples to your lab regardless of the distance,” Keefe notes. “If your lab is first to market, you establish powerful brand recognition and attract positive attention, which justifies your lab’s cost to set up and offer that testing in the first place.”

Learn More by Requesting the Dark Daily NGS White Paper

To help medical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups learn more about the growing role of NGS in clinical care, and how NGS can benefit clinical and molecular laboratories, Dark Daily and The Dark Report have produced a white paper titled, “How Next-Generation Sequencing Helps Molecular Laboratories Deliver Personalized Medicine Services to their Client Physicians.”

Medical laboratory leaders who want to learn how labs can establish NGS services and implement the IT/Informatics needed to be successful in using NGS should request a copy of this important white paper. It reviews how pathologists can help providers select targeted therapies and touches on marketing strategies to use NGS to procure new customers and retain existing customers.

The NGS white paper can be downloaded at no cost by clicking here or placing https://www.darkdaily.com/how-next-generation-sequencing-helps-molecular-laboratories-deliver-personalized-medicine-services-to-their-client-physicians-601/ into your browser.

—JP Schlingman

Related Information:

How Next-Generation Sequencing Helps Molecular Laboratories Deliver Personalized Medicine Services to their Client Physicians

Genomic Medicine: The Future of Cancer Treatment Is Now

Clinical Pathology Labs Are on Track to Get New Genetic Test That Screens for 448 Rare Childhood Diseases

Is Whole-genome Sequencing Reaching a Tipping Point for Clinical Pathology Laboratories?